Gavel Projects

Hahaha oh no i’ve spent wayyy to long stuck on project 5 (of the 10 toastmasters project) coz of a series of events that just happened to prevent me from going to gavel for weeks ;( i need to hunker down and write something. (this doesn’t count). i’ve some ideas but i’m always reviewing them! in the words of our chairperson with a bit of my own drama and paraphrasing where my memory fails:

“Let’s make our speeches interesting! No more speeches on examinations or commodification or procrastination (an especially-common topic that strikes us when we are in its throes). Challenge ourselves.”

Here are my ideas so far :) as related to the topic as possible:

Project 6 – vocal variety: there are 2 types of people in this world (??? i need to research this hahaha i just thought this could be pretty humourous/entertaining)

Project 7  – research your topic: can we create superheroes?

Project 8 – visual aids (we have to speak with slides): every world press photo winner from 1955-2011, taken from i haven’t begun crafting my speech so maybe i’m worrying prematurely but i think this may be my most challenging speech yet. the powerful images mean there’s so much -too much!- to convey and i’m afraid i won’t do it justice.

Project 9 – persuade with power

Project 10 – inspire your audience


Asian Science Camp 2013: Post-trip Report

2.50am. hours of hardwork (one night choinging i admit) beautifully concludes my ASC 2013 journey.

Asian Science Camp 2013: *Official* Post-trip Report


From the inspirational opening addresses encouraging us to seize this singular opportunity and make full use of our time in camp; to the final farewell party which capped off our shared experiences with a flourish; the Asian Science Camp was a truly memorable experience.

The Asian Science Camp was unforgettable in many aspects – academically, inspirationally, emotionally, and culturally.

Lectures and camps were the main mediums of learning, and dominated the bulk of our time during the camp. Lectures were conducted by specially chosen leaders of the camp, in a large-group setting. These lectures were mainly thought-provoking and left unanswered mysteries and questions for us, the future generation, to solve. For example, in Professor Hitoshi Murayama’s lecture on “Introduction to Cosmology”, he talked about the enigmatic dark matter and dark energy, and encouraged us to continue researching this field to unravel these secrets and advance mankind’s knowledge. Although the speakers were from diverse fields – ranging from Biology and Chemistry, to Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy – a common thread connected them. All the speakers were pioneers in their respective fields, having led the development of unique ideas or processes. This avant-garde spirit showed in their credentials – most speakers were either Nobel Laureates or prominent luminaries.

Above and beyond the academic knowledge I learnt, what I thought exceptionally meaningful, was that the lectures also focused on the foundational values needed in the pursuit of Science, and the journey as a scientist. For example, Dr Ada E. Yonath’s lecture talked about “The Fruits of Curiosity”, while Dr Yuan T. Lee’s lecture gave us insights into “My Life as a Chemist”. Not everyone may grow up to pursue the specific field of research mentioned during the lectures. However, all budding scientists should embrace and embody certain values – like curiosity, perseverance, and humility – as well as have an understanding of the challenge and rewards of embarking on Science as a career.

As a complement to lectures, camps were conducted in small groups, where we could interact with these speakers and ask questions. Certain lecturers also took this opportunity to speak about topics they were passionate about, which were outside their research field. For example, Dr Yuan T. Lee spoke about the “Importance of Sustainable Human Development” and the need to conserve our only home, Earth, and develop new alternative technologies. He is a strong advocate in this field, and encouraged us to always consider environmental impacts. These camps were also valuable in allowing us to experience hands-on learning. For example, Dr Motoko Kotani, who spoke about “Discrete Geometric Analysis and its applications to Materials Science” in her lecture, allowed us to self-explore the key concept of ‘least energy pathways’ via experimenting with soap films. We could ask her any questions that surfaced as a result of the experimentation too. Together, the lectures and camps worked hand-in-hand to facilitate our learning in this camp.

The strong friendships forged amongst the delegates (still lasting strong through Facebook and email) were another beautiful takeaway from this camp. Learning, working and having fun together drew us all closer, and knitted the fabric of our experiences. Everyone unanimously brought to this camp an open, honest spirit, where cultures were freely shared, and sensitivities carefully looked after. This spirit, which should definitely be encouraged in all future camps, allowed everyone to take part fairly and benefit most by learning from each other. These international friendships built will undoubtedly serve as a platform for our scientific endeavours in the future – where we can tap on everybody’s expertise to do something great for humanity. This is especially important in a world where multi-disciplinary science holds the key to the future advances (Biology, Physics and applied technology to build prosthetic limbs, for example).

Finally, the cultural exposure gleaned from everyday interaction, the excursions and the farewell party’s cultural exchange, was indeed a great learning experience. Not only did I gain a better understanding of their cultures, I also realised that many of us in Asia have shared values, which can provide a basis of our interactions. For example, most of the camp participants – whether they were pre-university students, or already pursuing a university major – were extremely diligent in their work, with many willing to pour in time and effort to get a job well done. Most enjoyed striving for excellence, and held integrity close to their hearts and regarded friendly competition as essential to growth – something also present in Singaporeans. It was interesting to note that these shared values are not just Singapore-wide, but also Asia-wide!

To quote my team’s poster: this 5-day camp may have ended, but as promising youths, our lives ahead are just beginning. And with the new friendships forged and experiences gained, the journey ahead is bound to be exciting.

Imagination Over Reality

Dunman High School Public Speaking Competition

Imagination Over Reality :)

Today, I put on my imagination hat (put on top-hat) and float through my castle on a cloud. Here, I’m a top lawyer, solving the toughest cases of the century with my cutting-edge wit; or a dancer, prancing and twirling to beautiful music.

Then wham (clap), I bump into something hard in the cloud and I’m slammed back into reality (whips off my hat). “Huh yes sir, I got it sir, homework page 65 – 75 due… tomorrow”. That was my imagination (point at hat on the floor) and this, this is reality as we know it – with school work, money matters, and all the humdrum chaotic hecticness that is life.

How do we reconcile these two seemingly distant worlds?

Good morning judges, friends and all my friends-to-be. Today I would like to talk about imagination over reality. What does imagination over reality mean? Over implies ‘better than’, implies that we like it more than something else. Case in point, if you had the choice between living the life in your imagination and living your life today, perhaps wouldn’t hesitate before donning the masks of our imagined alter-egos.

Imagination, something quintessentially human, is a powerful force. It has the power to shape reality, both personally and globally – leading many to champion for the spark of imagination over crushing reality. But today, I’d like to push forward a slightly different notion – that imagination grounded in reality may elevate both, and benefit all… More so than if one were to charge forward and leave the other in the dust.

“The imagination is man’s power over nature.” Wallace Stevens once said. Indeed, so many cases jump to mind, where imagination has pushed the limits of reality and produced amazing results. This is especially prominent in science-fiction. The author of Superman (pose) dreamt of a guy strong enough to move bolts of steel. And you know what, in military bases today, a special exoskeleton is being developed to enable mere mortals to do just that. Light ray guns first made their presence known in the comic books – now, there exist lasers, beams of light which cut steel.

But if things are so simple… Why don’t we ALL become thinkers? (thinking pose)

You see, we can’t, and we don’t.

Because if I could represent it pictorially, if this is imagination (sticks out right hand) and this is reality (sticks out left hand), imagination over reality implies this, right? (right arm over left)

What is this space we see here? It is disconnect, and it is this disconnect between imagination and reality, that will ultimately lead to the downfall of this whole notion. No doubt, everyone has heard of Leonardo Da Vinci, the man revered for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualised a helicopter-like flying machine in the 15th-century, but because his imagination was flying sky-high, while the reality of his time was choking on the dust below, none of his inventions came into fruition in his lifetime.

John L. Mason once said that “The wonder of imagination is this: It has the power to light its own fire.” But all flames need fuel, and the fuel of imagination is reality. Grounded in reality, imagination has the power to drive innovation and is an engine for knowledge. The movement of earth’s tectonic plates was once just an idea, but it’s now helping us predict earthquakes. Einstein’s theory of relativities, the atom, space, Apple, Facebook, Google, you achieving your dream job. All these are the products of a spirited imagination grounded in reality.

Imagination over reality is a beautiful dream. We all want our imaginations to triumph against all odds… and sometimes, yes it does. But it is no Promethean flame, and cannot always do so without the crucial help of reality.

Nevertheless, all the world’s a stage, and mere players like us, in the various seven stages of our lives, could use a little help sometimes – in the form of imagination and a little wide-eyed wonder. So if you could pardon me, I’ll go put on my hat.

Thank you!


My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.